Guthrie eager for fast start when Korn Ferry returns to Valley Course

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Although the Korn Ferry TOUR has been in hibernation for the past 12 weeks to avoid the COVID-19 pandemic, Luke Guthrie stayed busy.

He did the best he could to stay in shape, even though local gymnasiums and clubhouses were closed. He went to the driving range to keep his golf swing from becoming rusty.

As a new father, he had diapers to change. Lots of diapers.

And in the past month, he’s been “grinding” to get off to a fast start when the PGA TOUR returns to work.

“I treated it as an offseason,” Guthrie said of the long break that came when the Tour all of its formats down March 12 after one round of THE PLAYERS. “We’re going to play more than ever now when we get going. It kind of feels like the start of a new year. I’m starting off with new excitement to seeing all your peers, seeing your friends out there and seeing my caddy.”

Golf will get back on the business of birdies and bogeys on June 11 with the Korn Ferry Challenge at Pete Dye’s Valley Course at TPC Sawgrass and the Charles Schwab Challenge for the PGA TOUR at Fort Worth, Texas.

Guthrie is one of many younger players hoping to play his way into a promotion to the regular Tour. He needs at top 25 finish in points at the end of the season to earn his Tour card for 2021.

The Ponte Vedra resident, who has two career Korn Ferry wins, currently is 51st in the standings.

The Korn Ferry TOUR, formerly the Web.com TOUR, revamped its schedule to work around the worldwide pandemic. Ten events were canceled and a new docket was created to squeeze as much golf into summer as possible.

The new schedule included the addition of the Korn Ferry Challenge at TPC Sawgrass and the King and the Bear Classic at nearby World Golf Village on June 17-20.

“I’ve got a little ground to make up,” the 30-year-old professional said. “With this being a mega-season, there’s time. But it would be nice to get off to a good start. I didn’t play my best in those first six events. I had one top-10 and I got some points on the board.”

The Korn Ferry entry list is loaded with talent. The top players on the Tour’s support series will be there. So will PGA TOUR regular David Lingmerth.

While some have questioned why an established player would play on what essentially amounts to a Triple-A tour, Guthrie is ready for the challenge.

“I’ve competed [him] before,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s just golf.

“The players on the Korn Ferry TOUR are really good. They’re not afraid to go low [scores]. I don’t think you’ll see Korn Ferry guys be intimidated. It will be fun.”

Much like NASCAR, golf will return without fans. Players and caddies will be without professional and family support. Everyone will have their temperatures taken when they get to the course, and they constantly will be reminded of maintaining safe distancing.

“This is a crazy situation we’ve ever been in,” Guthrie said. “My anticipation is it will feel somewhat the same once you get on the range and get going. It’s going to feel very different before that around the clubhouse.

“All that’s going to feel very different. Once we get to playing, it will feel pretty similar. You know, golf operates six feet apart. The caddie-player relationship, that will be a little different, a little more cognizant of distance of each other, how to hand clubs back and forth, stuff like that. Those kinds of things are going to be goofy to see. But whatever it takes to get open, to play golf and compete, we’ll do what we’ve got to do.”

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